Nebraska senators look to next legislative session at 2023 Heartland Pride Parade

Several Nebraska state senators took part in Omaha's Heartland Pride Parade Saturday.
Published: Jul. 15, 2023 at 5:59 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A cause that brought some state senators to tears in Nebraska’s State Capitol brought them joy Saturday morning at this year’s Heartland Pride Parade: transgender rights.

“To see our community open its arms like this to the LGBT community, it just makes me happy,” said Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha.

“Happy” would not have been a word Cavanaugh would’ve used this May when Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen signed the ban on gender-affirming care for teens into law.

“LB574 steps towards making sure our kids aren’t making harmful decisions that they’re going to regret for the rest of their life,” Pillen said at the signing ceremony in May.

The bill was introduced by Omaha Sen. Kathleen Kauth and passed 33-15. With its emergency clause, the law will go into effect in October.

Cavanaugh and others like Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha led the charge on filibustering the legislature in opposition to LB574.

At Saturday’s parade, lawmaking was still at the forefront of their message.

Some Democratic state senators represented the ‘Don’t Legislate Hate PAC’ at the parade, encouraging people to vote in the upcoming election.

Those same senators said the last session’s battle at the Nebraska State Capitol could look similar to the next one.

“What happens next session really depends on my colleagues,” Hunt said. “If they continue these attacks on trans youth, against our LGBTQ community in Nebraska, we’re not going to make it easy for them.”

“We are going to see 2023 all over again,” Cavanaugh said.

Instead, these senators said they hope the bills the legislators prioritize are not divisive.

“Then we’re going to see boring old, government business again, which is what I am hoping for,” said Cavanaugh. “But I am prepared for whatever they are going to decide.”

Rachel Ogborn, mother to a teenage transgender daughter, said she wishes her daughter’s gender identity wasn’t debated on the legislative floor.

“I do want to make sure that my daughter is able to walk out the front door every day and be safe in our community,” said Ogborn.

Under the law, her daughter’s gender-affirming care is allowed to continue since it began before the bill passed. If legislation limits that care, she said she’s prepared to leave.

“I told her…there are states that are safe places, and if we have to go to another state to receive care, then we’ll do that.”

Sen. Jen Day of Papillion, also in attendance Saturday, was part of the movement to filibuster bills in opposition to LB574.

“No matter what, we will never, never, never stop fighting, no matter what happens,” Day said.